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BNIM Architects will remain in downtown Kansas City and lease space at Crown Center for its new headquarters, the firm announced today.

The 100-employee company is leasing about 20,000 square feet on two floors at 2460 Pershing Road. 

The decision was made after an earlier $13.2 million plan to renovate an empty warehouse at 1640 Baltimore Ave. in the Crossroads Arts District was abandoned after being criticized for its proposed use of tax incentives.

“BNIM is committed to Kansas City, our city, today and in the future,” Steve McDowell, CEO, said in a statement.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

More than 100 members — about half white, half African-American, mostly middle age or younger — of two Methodist churches came together Thursday night to pray, read and discuss their personal experiences of race relations.

file photo: Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The late dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, believed that "dance is for everybody." That philosophy extends to an event in its second year called Festival on the Vine: three days of dance, art and live performance in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district. 

The festival was created by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, the second home for Ailey's New York-based dance company. Chief artistic officer Tyrone Aiken walked us through some things to know: 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

Michael Bentley / Flickr

A quiet debate is raging over liquor licensing laws in the Crossroads District. Does it matter, to the character of a neighborhood, what time bars and restaurants issue that famous last call? If you don't have to go home but you can't stay here, what are your options, and who's making those choices?

Guests:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Streetcar officials say they are still investigating what caused a streetcar to go slightly off its rails near Union Station Monday, but they admit rain might have contributed to the car shunting off its track. 

Speaking on KCUR's Up To Date Tuesday morning, Donna Mandelbaum with the Kansas City Streetcar Authority said the problem originated at the track-switch area near Union Station, where streetcars turn back north on the 2.2-mile line. 

Roy Inman

For all the reasons one thinks of a small town in America — a small, blue-collar community where people leave their doors unlocked and kids play ball in the streets — Picher, Oklahoma was a fantastic place to grow up.

Ed Keheley remembers the closeness of his community.

“The adults in the community basically policed all the kids. You were afraid to do something, if anyone saw it they would immediately call your parents,” Keheley told Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up To Date.  

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Paul Tyler will retire later this month after 14 years of working as the grants director of ArtsKC-Regional Arts Council. Tyler has served the Kansas City arts community by working to form links between individual artists and the organizations supporting them.

For a man who is more comfortable working hard behind the scenes, Tyler says he's been a bit overwhelmed by the flurry of attention he's received after announcing his retirement.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As Debbie Pettid, one of the creators of The Rabbit Hole, waited for some 30 elementary school students from Rosehill Enhanced Learning Classroom in the Shawnee Mission School District on a recent Friday morning, she reflected on the whirlwind of the past several months.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"Witchy, tacky grandma."

That’s how Kansas City artist Rodolfo Marron III describes his aesthetic.

“I say it as a joke, but it’s kind of accurate,” he says. “My work is softer, maybe more effeminate. I embrace that.”

Growing up on the city's Westside during the 1990s, Marron experienced a rougher neighborhood than the one many know it as now. He lost many family friends to gang violence during a time he remembers as dark and gray. At an early age, he found escape in his art by creating characters and other worlds.

Courtesy Photo, Steve Paul

In many ways, Kansas City is a different city than it was 30 years ago. But in some ways, it’s the same.

Take it from two people whose job has been to write about it for the last three decades or so.

Editorial page writers Barbara Shelly and Steve Paul recently took buyouts at The Kansas City Star after 32 and 41-year-careers at the paper, respectively.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Art Institute stakes a claim in the Crossroads Arts District on First Friday, April 1, with the debut of KCAI Gallery.

The new venue at 1819 Grand Boulevard will be a familiar stop to many gallery-goers. Grand Arts had a 20-year run at this site, producing and exhibiting shows by artists such as Sanford Biggers, Laurel Nakadate, and Sissel Tolaas, among many others, until it closed in September 2015

Much of the business development success in the metro today is due, in part, to TIF — tax increment financing — that has attracted investment and built big projects. But TIF also comes with a cost and increasingly, some say that cost is too high.

Guest:

  • Kevin Collison is a KCUR contributor who covers development in Kansas City. 
BlueGold73 / Wikipedia

TIF (tax increment financing) is a major tool for encouraging development in blighted areas within the city. As neighborhoods transform and start to thrive, many question whether tax incentives are still necessary to lure new businesses. So what's the future of TIF, and is there a part of town that should benefit from a next round of TIF funding?

Guests:

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

A downtown Kansas City mainstream denomination church is bucking the trend of declining religious affiliation and shrinking church attendance.

The United Methodist  Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, established a downtown campus six years ago. 

Currently, Resurrection Downtown meets a brick commercial building at 1522 McGee that looks more like an industrial supply company than a church. But like the mega-church that gave it life, the downtown church is no average storefront church.  

A boutique hotel is planned for the Pendgergast Building and old Pabst brewery.
aprium.com

What may have been the headquarters of Boss Tom Pendergast's bootlegging operations during the prohibition era is slated to be reborn as a boutique hotel.

Pendergast was smart enough to cover those tracks, if the bootlegging rumors were accurate. Officially, the building  at 2101 Central St. housed his non-alcoholic beverage businesses.

The building and the industrial-style building adjacent were build for the Pabst Brewing Company in the early 1900s.

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri-General Collection

When Kansas Citians talk about the Crossroads Arts District, they're talking about a bustling place full of innovative restaurants, vibrant art galleries, a world-class performing arts center and specialty boutiques, not to mention high-rent condos.

During prime-time, it's got all the parking congestion of a big-city destination. 

But when people talked about the Crossroads in the 1980s, well ... they just didn't. Nobody even knew it had a name.

eg schempf / courtesy Leedy-Voulkos

Dylan Mortimer has explored faith and spirituality in his artwork for more than a decade in a very public way — outdoor prayer booths with knee pads where people can stop and pray, and oversized sculptural haloes that light up when visitors approach. 

Now, for the first time, he's addressing his chronic illness, cystic fibrosis, in spectacular glitter. 

How did the Crossroads go from a gritty neighborhood with abandoned buildings to a vibrant destination spot? Crossroads pioneer Jim Leedy, an architect and a longtime gallery owner share their memories.

Plus: A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) explainer and the recent controversy about the blight designation for Crossroads development.

Guests:

Rendering of BNIM Crossroads headquarters
Rendering courtesy of BNIM

Controversial tax breaks for a building in Kansas City's Crossroads Arts District advanced two days in a row but it will be at least another week before the full city council makes its final decision on it.

Until this week, the $5.2 million TIF for the new headquarters of architecture firm BNIM was on hold until after the first of the year at the insistence of the Kansas City Public Schools and parents in the district. 

The school district and the parents group said the schools could not afford the loss of tax revenue they had previously agreed to.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Baseball is a notoriously superstitious sport for both players and fans. The superstition is so powerful that it has led two Royals fanatics to make a portable shrine to keep the boys in blue lucky during their battle for the World Series against the New York Mets.

Valdez Campos and Jon Watkins both love the Royals and they both work at Blvd. Tavern. One slow Sunday night at the bar, they got to thinking about how they could honor the team and create a good luck charm to see them through the Series.

Rendering courtesy of BNIM

The Kansas City council has approved tax breaks for a proposed building renovation in the Crossroads Arts District that has become a focal issue for groups that oppose incentives that the school district cannot afford. 

Ironically, the same project is being hailed as breaking new ground in the sustainability and green architecture movement.

The $13.2 million project would transform an old warehouse building into a headquarters and green architecture showcase for local architecture firm BNIM. 

Local Listen: Beautiful Bodies

Oct 7, 2015
http://flysouthmusic.com/beautifulbodies

With the band Beautiful Bodies, you wind up watching them as much as listening to them. Alicia Solombrino is a dynamic front-person while Thomas Becker climbs stage scaffolding like a guitar-wielding goat. This week’s Local Listen features “Animal” from the band’s 2015 album “Battles.”

Beautiful Bodies performs at the Fed Up Fest at Crossroads KC on Saturday.

courtesy Grand Arts

After a 20-year run in the Crossroads Arts District, this First Friday will be the last for Grand Arts. The closing reception for the exhibition "Universe of Collisions," by The Propeller Group, a collective based in Vietnam and California, marks the end of the non-profit arts residency venue.

Founder Margaret Silva announced plans last year to donate the Grand Arts building, a former auto shop at 1819 Grand Boulevard, to the Kansas City Art Institute for its graduate program.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Growing up, Amanda Fish used to lock herself in her room to sing. So, her younger sister Samantha Fish would lock herself in her room and play guitar.

"We were independent experiencers," Amanda says.

"She calls it a loner thing, I call it a leader thing," Samantha adds.

Fast-forward through the days of wailing with Tom Waits and rocking out to Nine-Inch Nails, and these two musicians are, sure enough, leading their own blues bands around Kansas City and across the country.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

First Friday in Kansas City's Crossroads neighborhood is always a street party. But on the first Friday in August, the third annual Southwest x Central Street Fest spotlights artists who don't typically get as much exposure as others: the musicians, writers and artists of Imagine That!, a non-profit studio of artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

Sometimes, it’s just not the right time for an alcoholic drink.

As luck would have it, bartenders and bars across Kansas City are beginning to offer options for non-drinkers, from the Berry-tini at Eden Alley, to the Mango Tango at The Brick.

The mixology movement has picked up over the last few years, and as a result mocktails — cocktails without the booze — have become increasingly available, more popular and without a doubt, more tasty.

Michael Schmidt / Confluence

In downtown Kansas City, Mo., the stretch along 18th Street between the Crossroads Arts District and the 18th and Vine Jazz District is roughly a little over a mile — but this span includes 52.5 acres of paved surface lots. That's more than at Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium combined.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was first reported in March 2015. 

Before First Fridays took off, most people in Kansas City would have been hard-pressed to identify a local arts district. But the Crossroads district has since attracted attention from throughout the city and beyond. And other arts districts have popped up around it. How will the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art's plans for a midtown cultural district fit into the bigger picture?

Guests:

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